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  • Shoes or No Shoes?

    I feel like wearing my organ shoes - recommended by someone here, they fit fine - is like playing the piano wearing gloves.

    Anyone else like to play in the stocking feet?

    I am a new organist, just to the point where I can play pieces with easy pedal parts in church.

    Unfortunately, I'm also small in stature and short-legged at that, so I can't reach with my heels without the shoes, and I find I'm learning to play everything with my toes (balls of the feet, whatever) and also not really worrying much about a legato pedal part.

    Comments and suggestions invited, and if this isn't the right section of the forum, please move the thread.

    Thanks very much.

    -S-

  • #2
    Steve,

    Good to see you back posting.

    Check the following threads:I'm not sure I've given enough information, but you can click on the links above and press Ctrl+F to find the word "shoes," (Command+F on the Macintosh).

    Michael
    Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
    • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
    • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
    • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's another blog post which you might find helpful: http://www.organduo.lt/home/organ-bench-height

      Comment


      • #4
        @myorgan, thank you for the warm welcome. I read the first few threads, and it seems that most good organists wear organ shoes, so I will learn to play that way, and that means remembering to practice that way as well. I've been a musician long enough to know that I ought to learn to do what most good players do; after that, I can decide to do it another way.

        Change of subject: I have had quite the inaugural season as an organist - the church found out I can sing. 3 weeks ago, I sang the first two tenor pieces from the Messiah, which is fine as I'm a tenor (was a voice major in undergraduate school, and a choral conducting major after that). 3 weeks ago, I sang a couple of Messiah _bass_ solos, and last week I sang one _alto_ solo and another bass solo from the Messiah. (The texts are exactly what the pastor wanted to preach on.) We managed the alto and bass things by having the old organist come in and play an electronic piano tuned up a third. I'm waiting to hear what the pastor might have in store for me this Sunday...

        -S-

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
          I'm waiting to hear what the pastor might have in store for me this Sunday...
          Soprano?

          Michael
          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
            I feel like wearing my organ shoes - recommended by someone here, they fit fine - is like playing the piano wearing gloves.

            Anyone else like to play in the stocking feet?

            I am a new organist, just to the point where I can play pieces with easy pedal parts in church.

            Unfortunately, I'm also small in stature and short-legged at that, so I can't reach with my heels without the shoes, and I find I'm learning to play everything with my toes (balls of the feet, whatever) and also not really worrying much about a legato pedal part.

            Comments and suggestions invited, and if this isn't the right section of the forum, please move the thread.

            Thanks very much.

            -S-
            I felt this exact same way at first. Once I got an organ teacher, he pretty much laid down the law, and now i find that playing without shoes is awful.

            PS. For supporting congregational singing, one of the most important things is a good legato bass line. Just sayin'.
            “There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”
            “What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.”
            Johann Sebastian Bach

            (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
            (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by myorgan View Post
              Soprano?

              Michael

              That would be fun

              But, Steve, I know how you're feeling. I'm a soprano myself, but occasionally sing alto and high tenor (my voice goes down to f / sometimes even e, so that works). I do refrain from trying bass parts, though

              Comment


              • #8
                Always the contrarian, I play most of the time in socks only, at home or at church. But then I don't own any "real" organ shoes, so I don't know what I'm missing. I used to own a pair of nice lace-up dress shoes with a genuine leather sole that was quite smooth, almost slick. I never wore that pair anywhere except to church, so they remained smooth on the bottom, and I played the organ with those shoes on, found them quite nice for that purpose.

                The next pair of church shoes I bought were not so slick on the bottoms, rubber soles of some kind, and I found them "grabbing" the pedals all the time. That was when I discovered the joy of playing in my socks. (I can't play in bare feet, as the skin on my soles is certainly not slick, and grabs pedals as much as the grippy rubber on my shoe soles.)

                I realize it's not kosher, and if I the organ console at church were not behind a rail people would see my sock feet and think it strange, so I really should get with the program and buy myself some good organ shoes. I assume that the soles are smooth, firm, and narrow enough to navigate the pedals, and would probably suit me better than my socks, if I would just make the leap. When I had those smooth leather soles, I remember thinking it was quite easy to pedal with them on. Organ shoes are certainly even better.

                I do have one minor problem when playing in socks, or at least I did when I previously played an old Galanti organ at church -- my feet tended to occasionally play two adjacent pedals at once when the wide part of my foot would bend a little, thus spilling off the pedal I was intending to play, touching the pedal on one side or the other. That old pedalboard was way too sensitive and light, with the slightest touch sometimes making a note sound. The sticks of the sharps were almost as high as the top surfaces of the naturals, thus easy to hit with the sides of my feet. So I would often play wrong notes. That isn't a problem with my current Allen pedalboard, and I probably could've fixed it with the old one, had I taken the time to regulate the pedals more correctly.

                Your other problem, not being able to play heels because of your short legs, might require you to have the bench lowered. I wouldn't lower it much though. A half inch, an inch at the most, will make a huge difference. If the bench is not easily adjustable, you can have the bench cut and then use an assortment of thin wooden blocks to make the height adjustable. A good cabinet man or finish carpenter might be able to do that for you. Complete sets of bench blocks are sold by some of the organ supply houses, but they are sized for their own organ benches, so you might have to make custom blocks anyway.

                Good luck! Sounds like you have a marvelous church for which to play (and sing!). Keep up the good work.
                John
                ----------
                *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

                https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am taller than average, and long legged--I've always liked playing in my bare feet (no shoes, no socks) because it puts more space between my foot and the pedals which I need. (Too much leg for the average bench height, in other words.)

                  But for serious playing, I do have a pair of Organ Master shoes and they make it easy to play with shoes on. I should also say that I am supposed to wear cushioned sole shoes because of arthritis, so my street shoes are normally really difficult for organ playing!

                  I think whatever works for you is OK. It's like the piano instructors who always say you have to have your fingers curved just so--well my joints don't cooperate, so I play however I can. I knew an accomplished pianist/organist who played with flat fingers because his fingers were short.

                  So if it works and you're comfortable doing it, go ahead. There are no real organ police to enforce the policy of playing without shoes.

                  But if you get a pair of Organ Master shoes, you'll probably find you like them. The sole is thin, and you get a good feel for where you are on the pedals, and the heel is high enough to help. They cost quite a bit less than any street shoes I buy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My first organ instructor insisted I purchase a pair of OrganMaster shoes. I won't play without them ever since!
                    Home: '57 Hammond B3; '60 Hammond A-100; '64 Leslie 251; '77 Leslie 330; '80 Leslie 770; '64 Hammond PR-40
                    Church: '81 Zimmer 26-rank mechanical pipe organ

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      God blessed with an EEE width foot, so you can imagine my frustration. I'm a bad boy and usually just wear my Sunday black dress shoes. If I was in my socks, my feet would be slipping all over the pedals. I should probably find a pair of real organ shoes, but do they make them in wide width? Seems kind of like a paradox since I would think the more narrow, the better. My foot barely fits on a single pedal without bumping the one on either side. LOL
                      Craig

                      Hammond L143 with Leslie 760

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've got wide feet; Organ Master shoes in a Wide (EE) are working out well for me. Well worth the $50 they cost, IMHO.

                        -S-

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Steve Freides View Post
                          I've got wide feet; Organ Master shoes in a Wide (EE) are working out well for me. Well worth the $50 they cost, IMHO.
                          Steve,

                          Interesting how you brought the conversation full circle from when you started it some time ago. Great to hear the follow-up between you originally asking the question, and now your thoughts about having made the decision to use shoes.

                          Thank you for sharing.

                          Michael
                          Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
                          • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
                          • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
                          • 9 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 6 Pianos

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by myorgan View Post
                            Interesting how you brought the conversation full circle from when you started it some time ago. Great to hear the follow-up between you originally asking the question, and now your thoughts about having made the decision to use shoes.

                            Thank you for sharing.

                            Michael
                            Indeed. Since just about everyone said to learn to play with shoes, that's what I've been doing.

                            I originally (a few months ago) ordered an 8 and an 8-1/2 from Organ Masters and when they arrived, the 8-1/2 was clearly too big, so I sent those back and kept the 8's. Now that I've been wearing the 8's a little, about a week ago I ordered a 7-1/2 - all these in EE - and those are really the proper, snug fit. I will be keeping the 7-1/2 at church and using the 8's to practice with at home.

                            Therefore my take on the sizing of these shoes is that they run large, since I don't wear a 7-1/2 in much and am usually an 8 or 8-1/2.

                            My wife says I look like I'm ready to go flamenco dancing.



                            -S-

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I play in a pair of TicTacToes (which are just ballroom dancing shoes, I believe). I inherited them from my predecessor. They are very similar to Capezio dancing shoes, which is what was recommended by my organ teacher (he prefers the smooth leather sole to the suede of Organmasters). I think my next pair will be Organmasters, just to try them out.

                              On the topic of size, I wear an 11 1/2 (actually a 12 in most shoes). The organ shoes make my feet look tiny, and I have gotten comments on it from my wife and others. I think it is due to the fact that the organ/dancing shoes are cut so close to the shape of the foot (when correctly fitted), which does help with pedal accuracy. My feet aren't any smaller then they used to be, but the modern style of men's dress shoes is to make the foot look larger (by having extra sole that extends out past the face of the shoe upper). All that extra sole makes for many extra (and unintended) notes, so it is definitely best to get proper shoes.
                              “There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”
                              “What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.”
                              Johann Sebastian Bach

                              (at Home) Conn 645 Theater Deluxe
                              (at Church) 1836 E. & G.G. Hook Bros, Opus 26

                              Comment

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